Russian Premier League: Krylya Sovietov in focus
In 2009, Krylya will try to pick up where they left off last season. Head coach Leonid Slutsky's first year with the Samara side is considered a success, after they finished the campaign in sixth.
But the pre-season didn't go as planned for Slutsky, as captain Mattew But and key midfielder Andrey Tikhonov left the side.
The Russian legend's departure was a major upset.
“It all happened very quickly and unexpectedly. Just before the New Year, Tikhonov had signed a contract extension, and I relied on him. But then he received a very good offer from Kazakhastan's Lokomotiv. We have great respect for him and let him go. Of course, it's a big blow for us,” says Slutsky.
The head coach, though, has no shortage of volunteers to take over the leader's role. The Czech duo of Jiri Jarosik and Jan Koller are ready to fill the vacancies. The enormous forward arrived to Samara just last summer, but has already proved to be a top class striker. The former Bundesliga star netted 7 goals in 19 appearances for Krylya.
Another man on view this season is Vladislav Kulik. The midfielder moved from Terek Grozny this winter. Slutsky predicts a great future for the 24-year-old.
“Kulik is already a first-eleven player. He is a very skillfull and smart player. I think, if his attitude to the game is right, he will grow into a fantastic midfielder,” says Slutsky.
Krylya Sovetov started the season by beating Tom away from home.
Evgeny Savin's goal made the difference in that game. The young forward caught the eye of Guus Hiddink last season and hopes to become Russia's regular in 2009.
Savin and Krylya have the chance to continue their good form on Saturday, when they play Amkar in the first home match of the season.